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Library >> Renewable Energy Resource Maps >> Global Maps >> Ocean

GLOBAL Renewable Energy Resources

Ocean Energy

Wave Energy 

world wave enrgy

The wave power density measured in kilowatts (kW) per meter (m) of wave front for the various parts of the world are provided in the following graphic
(Hagerman 2004).

This shows that the most energy rich coastlines in the world are located on the coasts of territories with a western exposure to the Southern Ocean (Chile, South Australia, south western coasts in South Island, New Zealand as well as parts of Western Europe, noteably Ireland, Scotland and Iceland as well as western Canada and South Africa).

This does not necessarily mean that these areas have the highest potential for wave energy exploitation as there are many factors involved. Several of these latter areas are isolated with poor communications. The highest potential at the first stage for wave energy is probably areas such as islands in the trade wind belt of the Pacific, where overall wave energy is much lower but considerably more steady both in strength and direction. Such islands today often rely on expensive imported diesel for power generation.,1999,TCID%253D1%2526EmbedCID%253D0

Global Distribution of Deep Water Wave Power Resources

world wave power

world wave power

The maps above show annual average wave power in kilowatts per metre of crest lenght/ width for various sites around the world.

The highest energy waves are concentrated off the western coasts in the 40o–60o latitude range north and south. The power in the wave fronts varies in these areas between 30 and 70 kW/m with peaks to 100kW/m in the Atlantic SW of Ireland, the Southern Ocean and off Cape Horn.

The capability to supply electricity from this resource is such that, if harnessed appropriately, 10% of the current level of world supply could be provided. Work is still needed to determine how much more may be captured by other products (such as pumped water for desalination or electrolysis), once the storage technology for hydrogen is suitably developed.

Tidal Energy Patterns

world tidal power patterns

This map shows the patterns of tidal energy played out across the surface of the Earth as lines of force. The colors indicate where tides are strongest, with blues being weaker areas and reds being stronger. In almost a dozen places on this map the lines appear to converge, as if pulled together like a purse. Notice how at each of these places the surrounding color--the tidal force for that region--is blue. These convergent areas are called amphidromes, places where there is little or no apparent tide. This is not to say that the surface of the ocean in these places doesn't move, doesn't rise and fall with wind, momentum, inertia, and other forces acting on it. But for the purposes of studying the tides from space in an effort to understand how energy is conserved and distributed, these areas a mathematically still.


tidal power world

Blue signifies places where the ocean level is lower than the average reference height, and red shows areas where it's higher. The difference is significant: between the darkest blue and the brightest red is a range of more than 49 feet (15 meters), displaced by lunar tidal forces.

White areas separating the blues and reds approximate the "zero" point, a reference sea level against which other areas are compared.

A few places on the map show areas where the tides appear to revolve around a generally stable, unmoving point. This is called an amphidrome, a place with little or no tide at all.

Marine Current Energy
Map of Surface Ocean Currents

Major ocean currents of the world. On this illustration red arrows indicate warm currents, while cold currents are displayed in blue. NREL

Related GENI Resources
Definition Ocean Energy
Current Articles on Renewable Energy Resources and Transmission
National Energy Grid Maps

Ocean Energy Council (OEC)
WEC Survey of Energy Resources
EERE Ocean
NREL Ocean Energy


Updated: 2016/06/30

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